Anthropogenic activities influence the mobilization of trace metals and oxyanions in coastal sediment porewaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The biogeochemical cycle of trace metals and oxyanions in marine sediments is mainly controlled by early diagenesis of organic material, but anthropogenic activities such as dumping of dredged sludge or shipyard activities can strongly
perturb these natural processes. Therefore, the impact of dumping of dredged sludge, shipyard activities such as blasting of boat hulls and the mixing of polluted Scheldt estuary water with less polluted coastal water on the mobilization of trace metals and oxyanions in the sediments was studied in the pre- and post-bloom period (March and October) in Belgian Coastal Zone (BCZ). Vertical profiles of total and labile dissolved trace element concentrations, dissolved sulfide, pH and redox potential were assessed in sediment porewaters. Generally, total and labile dissolved
element profiles in the porewaters are well correlated, showing higher concentrations in March when the redox potential is lower and sulfide concentrations higher. Low pH levels were documented together with high amounts of Fe and associated elements in March at the dumping station. At the coastal station in the vicinity of the shipyards, sediment porewaters are enriched in dissolved Zn while at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary the highest dissolved Cu levels were found. Theoretical calculations with Visual MINTEQ confirm the increased Fe and associated element concentrations in March (lower pH) and the lower metal concentrations in October (lower Eh). R values, ratio of labile dissolved to total dissolved concentrations, reflect the potential of the solid sediment phase to supply labile elements to the porewater. They were lowest for Cu and highest for V. This study showed that anthropogenic activities in the BCZ such as dumping of dredged sludge and blasting of boat hulls have a serious impact on the levels, distribution and bioavailability of contaminants in the sediments, which may form a real threat to the benthic ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number156353
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume839
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Biogeochemical cycle
  • Trace metals and oxyanions
  • Labile concentration
  • Sediment porewater
  • Anthropogenic activities
  • R values

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